England and Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara has been named as Young Cricketer of the year by the Cricket Writers Club. The 23-year-old is hoping that this can be the moment that helps him progress as a player and finally make a name for himself on the international stage, writes Thomas Rooney, exclusively for The Village Cricketer.

In all honesty, Bopara does frustrate me somewhat. There is no doubting his ability and he has to be considered as one of the most talented youngsters in England right now. He performs superbly for Essex as well averaging 61.52 in the County Championship this year meaning that all the cricket odds are backing him to be Essex’s player of the year as well. In the domestic game, he has had his best season yet – that’s for sure.

So, where does the frustration come into it? Well, as yet, he has been unable to show the same type of form for England. In terms of test matches, he has only played three games – which all came against Sri Lanka in December 2007. It is fair to say he struggled as he only averaged 8.40 in five innings. Making your test debut against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka isn’t easy though and I’m prepared to forgive him for his test record. Hopefully his time will come in test cricket with patience being the key.

However, even in the shorter form of the game – Bopara hasn’t excelled half as much as he should have done. After 28 One Day International’s for England he has only passed 50 twice in averaging 27. He has been in and out of the side, but this is mainly because he hasn’t grabbed his opportunities to impress. Perhaps he doesn’t feel like the selectors trust him quite enough to give him a long run in the side. Again though, this may be because he has shown great potential for Essex, but not for filled this for England.

The England set up is desperate for him to perform and are keeping him involved in the international fold. Despite not being in the team during the recent ODI series victory over South Africa, he was in the squad and knows that it only takes one injury or one player to dip in form for him to be in. With England looking like a very good one-day side though, he MUST perform when called upon next. I am aware that he is only young and not too much should be expected from him at 23, but it will start to effect his confidence. If he keeps getting into the England team only to be dropped again – he might start to question his own right to be there.

Like I have said though, he knows that the England selectors are going to stick with him. He was in the squad for the final test match against South Africa and is expected to be named on the tour of India this winter. The player himself admits that now is the ‘start of bigger things’ for him. He needs to turn into a regular member of the team, rather than a regular member of the squad.

I have no doubt that when he does this, English cricket will benefit a great deal as he is a very talented and focused young cricketer. Should he have a successful winter where he is scoring plenty of runs, I would even be tempted to place a cricket bet on him being involved in the first test match against Australia next summer.

Now is the time to perform though Ravi – start showing everyone what you are made of. Every Essex fan knows it and it is about time every England fan knows it as well.

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